Fear and Longing are very powerful forces. They tell us that we can’t do something while at the same time telling us that we are lost without it. Social experiences for me are often like this. I have an intense fear of doing social things and at the same time, I have an overwhelming need to be with people and to find acceptance.
Showing up at an event, for me, is sometimes more than half the battle. If I can convince myself to go to the event, I can usually work up the courage to talk with people and interact. When I am able to talk with people the part of me that longs for the interaction curls up and begins to purr. I feel contented and am able to relax. Until someone asks me a question or I am required to partake of small talk. I am always afraid that I will start talking and not be able to shut up. And that what I think is going to be an appropriate conversation, really isn’t.
I would like to think that I have learned to think before speaking. I know for a fact that this is just me living in my houseboat on denial. I do stop my self and think more often than I did in the past. I sometimes try not to talk at all thereby eliminating the problem entirely. That doesn’t really work either, because people ask questions and want you to answer them. If I wait a moment after someone has finished talking I can usually avoid the conversational mistakes that plague me. (This entire concept is not applicable at home or with family. At those times, I just talk and overrun people when they are talking and generally have normal conversations.)
This is where showing up plays a big part. If I don’t show up then I don’t get to experience anything. When I do show up I can participate if I choose. It also gives people a chance to talk to you. I have perfected the standing and smiling while not actually talking to anyone. Last night I was at social thing at school. I was there in the room. People talked to me and I talked to them. I also decided that I would not try to force any conversations. If someone talked to me then I would interact. It felt less stressful. I was not trying to be involved I was just there, in the moment, with other people. I left when I was ready.
Today is another day filled with social interactions. I am choosing to let those interactions find me rather than me finding them. And so far I am less anxious and more confident. All I am doing today is showing up. Because showing up is more than half the battle.